Ruthless (Mills & Boon Historical) Paperback – 3 Dec 2010
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About the Author
Anne Stuart loves Japanese rock and roll, wearable art, Spike, her two kids, Clairefontaine paper, quilting, her delicious husband of thirty-four years, fellow writers, her three cats, telling stories and living in Vermont. She’s not too crazy about politics and diets and a winter that never ends, but then, life’s always a trade-off. Visit her at www.Anne-Stuart.com.
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Top Customer Reviews
Ruthless appears to be the first book in a trilogy - which I think will work well - considering the characters in the book and the potential that the author has given them and future plotlines.
Having said that, the storyline is basically about a mother (who was once royalty of some type) and her two daughters who try to "fit" into a world that is no longer available to them. In fact, a good chunk of the book is driven by the mother who will do just about anything to reclaim both a title and a fortune - to the detriment of her daughters.
Concurrently, we meet the eldest daughther who is THE main character of the storyline. I loved reading about how strong and stable she was, despite her upbringing and the constant challenges presented by her mother.
Overall, I though the book was okay - nothing outstanding, but nonetheless interesting.
The plot revolves around two English sisters living with their mother in Paris. The "Hero" is a thorough rake in the worst possible way, but I enjoyed the plot and subplot tremendously.
For the Georgette Heyer fan this has distinct shades of "These Old Shades," which suggests that the sequel could be about the child(ren) of this book's characters, in the same way as "Devil's Cub" follows "These Old Shades." If another reader knows which book follows "Ruthless" it would be helpful to mention it in a review/comment on this book so the rest of us can look it up!
(Later comment: I've now read Reckless which is indeed about the main characters of this book's son. Not quite as good, but still enjoyable.)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Francis Rohan, known in pre-Revolutionary Paris as the "King of Hell" for his hedonistic exploits and orgiastic society, meets his match in Elinor Harriman. Neither this demon count nor Elinor, his next victim, has any illusions about what life holds for them. Each has endured excruciating loss; one has given up, one refuses to. Elinor should be afraid of Rohan, but she just doesn't have time to be since she is attempting to rescue her feckless, selfish mother from ruin once again. Elinor confronts Rohan in his lair, refusing to be intimidated by him or the debauchery that swirls about them both. At first amused by her refusal to be intimidated, Rohan becomes intrigued by her. He simply cannot let her be. The reader wonders: Who exactly is the spider and who the fly in this story?
The dialogue alone recommends Ruthless. Yet there is much more in Ruthless to please the reader: two love stories, one for each sister; two heroes who need rescuing; slightly sassy, devoted servants; degenerate villains, the sort we love to hate; a Jacobite fugitive (Who doesn't love a doomed, Romantic cause?); brimstone and fire; suspense, mystery, and the redemptive power of love. The very best thing about Ruthless? It's book one of a three book series.
When Elinor's mother escapes in a moment of clarity from their home with the last of their meager valuables and cash, Elinor is forced to follow her. She locates her at the Heavenly Host, a place where anything goes and not a place for an innocent young girl. The Heavenly Host is run by the infamous Viscount Rohan and when Elinor is brought to his attention; he finds himself interested for the first time in years.
I really liked the plot, I liked that Elinor and her sister were struggling in life but had that unbreakable bond and a few loyal lifelong servants. I loved the characters. Elinor isn't beautiful but she is selfless and witty. Lydia who is beautiful isn't cold or shallow; rather she's warm and endearing. Rohan is an ass, but I loved him too. He's alpha male all the way and he's a deviant and unconventional. His good friend Charles was one of my favorite characters and his was just a minor part.
So why only the 3 stars? The book was way too long to have never delved into the characters any deeper than she did. Elinor's sister finds out about Rohan's past and what makes him tick, yet it's never brought up between the two main characters. Charles sweeps Lydia off her feet yet we never find out anything of real substance about him, either.
The author dragged out the whole sexual tension thing between the two characters for far too long. Then there is the matter of Elinor's deceased father's estate. Towards the end of the book Rohan discusses it with Charles in great detail, even proves all knowing on the new heir, yet never bothered to tell Elinor about it? Then I think eventually he will bring it up, nope, it doesn't happen! Another surprise at the end of the book pops up and I wait for Elinor to tell Rohan, again it never happens.
For a book with over 400 pages there seemed way too many loose ends. I think the makings of a great historical romance were here; it just was a little disorganized and needed to be tied up better.
I haven't given up hope; I liked it enough to want to read the next book in the series. I only hope it lives up to its potential.
Cherise Everhard, August 2010
But ultimately, I felt the book did not live up it the hype on the back. For anyone who is familiar with Anne Stuart's books she excels at dark and dangerous heroes that often the reader feels could fall to the `dark side' and even be the villain of the story. The heroine is often young, naïve and rather average looking. The heroine somehow finds something redeeming in him even if the world does not and is able to get under his skin where not other woman has before. This book follows the same pattern as a courageous if poor Elinor Harriman finds herself going to the Heavenly Host. A dark, wicked place where everything has a price. She must extract her troublesome and sick mother from further gambling. The owner is the King of Hell, Viscount Rohan. One rumored to `consort with the devil, have orgies and drink the blood of virgins.' Innocent Elinor's courage intrigues the Dark Viscount and he helps takes her in for the night feeds her and clothes her and returns her deranged mother back to her home. Although he soon returns Elinor to her home he quickly becomes obsessed with her and she with him. And as an evil creeps to kill her and her family the Viscount must re-evaluate his new feelings.
The problem for me I that I never felt the Viscount was that evil or hedonistic or even interesting. I think if there were more scenes that demonstrated his corrupting or black character rather than giving vague glimpses that didn't really pan out I would have felt he was more of the `bad boy.' Rather than just being told he was evil. In this story it felt like he was masquerading as the bad boy the entire book, going through the motions. Because of this the book didn't really have the edginess I thought it would and since this book really hinges on the hero's character being the King of Hell. So it didn't completely work for me. The heroine was spirited and had an interesting past that haunted her but for some reason seemed to lack personality for me. I was actually a lot more interested in the Viscount's best friend the scarred and decent Charles Reading who loves Elinor's beautiful and extremely smart younger sister. I also felt the author threw in the end a plot to kill Elinor and her family that felt a little tacked on. So while this is a solid read, I have to admit I have enjoyed her earlier books more.
Overall, this is a decent book and if you already a fan of the author's books I believe you will enjoy it. If you enjoy a `bad boy hero' who changes from the heroine's love you will also like it. But the problem for me is because I have read this author's books before and because of this, the plot and characters seemed a bit recycled and predictable for me. I was really hoping for a lush, decadent background and dark/complex intrigue in this historical that I felt it did not fulfill.
Okay now the bad, first of all the first half of this book was a bit I wouldn't say boring... but it took so long for the main characters to have time to just be together and get to know each other, not that they really did in my opinion. I thought the characters motivations were a bit forced. I dunno I could almost buy the whole "I'm bored and I find you interesting" angle but I don't think it was enough to make it an interesting plot. I mean who cares about some dude who's infatuated by some girl he barely know only because she acts like she doesn't like him...or some vague reasoning. Elinor acts like she can't stand Francis pretty much throughout the first 75% of the book and then suddenly she wants him and then soon after loves him. Then Francis kills the guy who F**ked her over in the past (not to give away the plot), It just didn't make sense to me. Why would he do this for a girl he barely knows? I think Stuart should have added more POV scenes for Francis, I found him too enigmatic throughout the whole novel.
Then the Heroine who up until this point is supposed to be "a reasonable girl" randomly accepts a rather shady proposal from some weirdo that her nanny had previously stated she should we wary of. Without going to check on her sister that she is super close with. Come on!
I could go on and on about the bad with this book. The vague motivations, the lame plot, the annoying way everyone keeps treating Lydia (Elinors `s sister ) as if she's a 3 year old, the way the nanny and mom just died, and everyone was like "well that sucks, I'm sad".....(next scene)"so anyway". I was like, Wait, no attending the funeral, no deep mourning period or conflicted inner turmoil about the unresolved familial issues between the mom and daughters. I saw a missed opportunity for some depth into the characters. Then after all the back story and Waiting and Waiting for them to do SOMETHING other than talk we get an okay love scene and a rushed ending. I would give some of Stuart's other books a chance but, this one is not one of her best.